Dreams have the ability to show people’s true colors, just as autobiographies show readers the facts. As psychiatrist Matthew Hodes puts it, “dreams are incontrovertibly the product of individuals’ mental lives” (6). Mariatu Kamara has several dreams throughout her journey in Bite of the Mango, and they reveal much about her as a person. Ishmael Beah’s dreams in A Long Way Gone are less frequent, but they have impact in relaying the fears of a child soldier in the midst of a civil war in Sierra Leone. Even so, Mariatu’s dreams provide a more well-rounded look at her moral and social psychology than Beah’s dreams do for his.
Mariatu’s dreams very clearly express the close connections she has to her society and culture. For example, she dreams about palm oil; in her society, this is a sign that “‘blood will spill by the end of the day’” (Kamara 25). Palm oil appears in numerous dreams throughout Mariatu’s childhood, and there is always blood spilt in some way after she has the dream. These dreams are significant in that they reveal Mariatu’s strong beliefs that are prevalent in the society in which she lives. Palm oil, which is an important ingredient in the recipes of many foods in Sierra Leone, can be seen as a symbol of danger ahead when dreamt about. The fact that this carries through in Mariatu’s childhood shows a connectedness to her society and the beliefs of her ancestors, specifically her grandmother, who is the one that informs her of the palm oil in dreams.
On the contrary, Ishmael Beah’s dreams in A Long Way Gone do not give his audience much insight into his beliefs and culture within his society. Most of Beah’s dreams involve haunting images of the war and the horrible violence that was common during those terrible times in Sierra Leone. However, Beah never truly delves into the connections to his society in his story, so it is not really explored when he recounts his dreams.
Fears and superstitions are also clearly expressed in Mariatu’s dreams. She has nightmares in her story that reveal genuine fear of death and of violence. Images she has of Salieu are a perfect example. Salieu, who raped Mariatu when she was young and impregnated her as a result, shows up in Mariatu’s dreams. She initially fears him, and there is an emotional complexity to this fear that creates a far more revealing story about her experiences than the fears that are presented in Beah’s dreams.
Beah’s fears and superstitions are presented in his nightmares; even though they are vivid and impactful, they do not reveal as much about Beah’s experiences in Sierra Leone beyond the fact that death is all around him. According to “Wake up to true meaning – DREAM ANALYSIS,” males are “more likely to dream about violence or being sacked” when they have nightmares (Section: World Edition: 1 – SYD). This...